On June 21, 2003, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, the fifth book in J K Rowling’s series was published. The novel broke the record set by “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” as the fastest-selling book in history. Rowling would eventually publish two more Harry Potter books- both destroying the sales record of its predecessor. The final installment, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, was published in 2007.and set a record by selling 8.3 million copies in the first 24 hours. Harry Potter is the best-selling book series of all time with an incredible 500M books sold

I have never been a fan of fantasy novels as evidenced by my starting “The Hobbit” on three occasions and never making it past page 100. However, because of Rowling’s imaginative storytelling, extraordinary character development and sly wit I was able to finish the first three novels before remembering I hate fantasy. Furthermore, I am eternally grateful for the love of reading that Rowling instilled in my three daughters. My wife read the first stories to them at bedtime and years later the girls would drive themselves to a local bookstore to get in the midnight queue for a new edition.

Twenty- five- year old, Joanne Rowling, was sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. when she initially wrote down the ideas for Harry Potter on a napkin. She had just become a single mother to her daughter after a short and “catastrophic” marriage. Rowling remembers “We were as skint as you can be without being homeless… We were existing entirely on benefits. And at that point I was definitely clinically depressed”.

The first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishing houses before being picked up by Bloomsbury. Rowling received an advance payment of only £1,500.  Bloomsbury suggested using a pseudonym for the cover as the publishers didn’t believe boys would want to read a fantasy book about a boy wizard that was written by a woman. Joanne who had no middle name settled on JK, the “K” in honor of her grandmother, Kathleen.

Fast-forward to today, Rowling’s net worth is estimated to be around $1B making her the richest author in the world.  She and is renowned for her charitable contributions and has won numerous humanitarian awards. In 2011, she donated approximately $160 million-to select charities including a medical research center at to the University of Edinburgh and  her own international nonprofit organization, Lumos,  whose main goal is to aid orphaned children.

Studies have shown that she has had a profound effect on a new generation’s reading habits.  One survey found that three out of four children who read Rowling’s series showed an interest in reading other books.  Research by Booklist’s Briana Shemroske indicates a trend that children are now willing to read longer books. Shemroske observed a 37 % increase in page lengths between 1996 and 2006, and a 115% increase between 2006 and 2016 – concluding that Harry Potter was partially responsible for the trend.

Natalie McDonald was a young Canadian girl who wrote to Rowling shortly before she died of cancer. She is the only person for whom a Harry Potter character is named.

When in Edinburg, fans should visit “The Elephant House” where Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. The coffee house’s seating is limited so they won’t reveal which booth the author favored but you have a 20% chance of sitting in her space.

Rowling had overall approval on the scripts for the movie series which became the second highest-grossing film series in history.

Steven Spielberg was slated to direct the original film adaptation but backed out over creative clashes with Rowling. Spielberg had planned on casting “Sixth Sense” star Haley Joel Osment to play Harry. The new director Chris Columbus staged hundreds of auditions for cast- members where he chose Daniel Radcliffe for the coveted lead role.

Rowling insisted that all members of the cast be British. The only major exception was the casting of Verne Troyer AKA Mini-Me from Austin Powers, as Griphook.  “Yeh, Baby!!”

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